Keisha Lance Bottoms @ CCI
#atlmayor2017 #atlanta #cci
May 9th, 2017
Why public service?
Do you have siblings?
- I do, and I find new ones every day given my dad was an entertainer
- Her dad was an entertainer, but he didn’t have the education to go and do something different when his popularity waned
Tell me about your mom. What did you learn
- what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and we all have choices
- Mom eventually went to cosmetology school and opened a salon in west end
Do you remember those experiences at 8?
- only begun to publicly talk about. Never really takes about it privately
- Could’ve been the worst thing that happened to her but she sees it as the best thing
- Gave Her an understanding at 8
- Came home and there were cops all over her house
- She and her brother and sister processed it differently
- Cops left the kids there and told them to not to call anyone, so they didn’t tell their grandparents that day.
Did that change your
- have me persoective on police officers
Who did you grow up admiring?
- my parents and my grandparents
- My dad taught me to never be afraid to try, he would always say ask for what you want the worst that someone can. Say is tell you no
- Grandparents were a solid rock
- Grandmother worked at Lenox square, rode the bus every day at Davison’s. they didn’t allow black women to work on the floor, so she worked in the stock room. Eventually she was able to work at Macy’s.
Graduated from Douglas, did you want to stay in Atlanta?
Who did you look up to as a journalist
- Rene Schenaut, Channel 11, went on To Philadelphia
- I always loved 60 minutes, always a news junkie
Did you run for anything in college?
- ran for more things in high school, didn’t win
- Ran for 2 things in college, miss junior didn’t win, miss Omega Psi Phi, she was Miss Psi so she came close
- In law school didn’t run for anything
- Finished law school in June 1994, her dad died suddenly in September 1994, and she got married October 1994
- Ran for judge in 2008
How did you meet your husband?
What did you see as a flaw in the judge you ran against, the councilperson you ran against
- Story after story of how disrespectful he was to attorneys and he wasn’t showing up
- I heard that he began a much better judge
- I’m so grateful that he fought so hard to keep his seat because otherwise I could be on Superior court
How long have you served in city council?
- this is the end of her second term
Did you know the current mayor when you were running
- I’ve known him since high school
Has he changed since high school?
- I don’t think so.
- I remember when I met him: where the publix is on cascade road, there was a house called haunted house, these guys from Westwood were having a two day party, well first it was a one day party and
- That was one of the best parties I’d ever been to in high school
What did you feel most uncomfortable with, hardest thing to adjust from priavate to public life
- saw more value in her law degree than she ever saw when practicing law.
- On city council, she saw lawyers do think differently, the next step, what if
- Biggest example is: pension reform. When they started discussing pension reform, she had two kids, and then she heard about twins. All of whom are adopted.
Why did you choose to adopt?
- My husband and I always knew we wanted to adopt. I thought it would be “in addition”
- Many of the plans of the mans heart but the lords purpose prevailed
- Tried to have kids, decided to adopt
- Biggest blessing of my life
- I can’t imagine I would have adopted having had biological children and I can’t imagine not having my 4 kids
- They were all born in Jackson Mississippi
- Last time they called, we were in NYC, got free tickets to David Letterman, and she didn’t
- There weren’t
- Sorry about
- I remember at the end of his performance, Drake took a shot and I was like he needs a shot too
- 3 boys and a girl
How has city council functioned as an entity? What is the reasoning that councilmembers tune out during those hearings?
- I would disagree. I’m a mom of four, I multi-task a lot
- It may look like we’re not paying attention but it doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention
- If we’re not on the floor, we have the proceeding on in the back
- For those of us that have outside employment there’s a lot going on
- things that people are making comments on, we might have had 50 emails, 7 phone calls on that subject
- I certainly understand how it looks, but I don’t want us
- My biggest concern about city hall is how much we rely on institutional knowledge. There’s so much we don’t have formalized.
How does city council use data? Where does a city council member get information? There’s no standardized brief?
- it depends on the issue
- If it’s legislation on our agenda, there will be staff comments
- Some people will do independent research
- Some people have outside consultants that provide white papers
- People who come to speak at city hall will bring papers
Have you ever voted for something that you didn’t think was the right vote but it was right poltickall
- there’s nothing that jumps out at me
- Even when I’ve disagreed with the administration, there may be
- mayor said to her: to the extent that you disagree with our policy, we appreciate having a conversation about it
- We vote on some much legislation.
- Most people don’t just put up legislation that they know is going to get slaughtered.
To the public that looks weird that there isn’t a split vote. Clearly there’s been a conversation on it, but the people don’t see that.
- when you are in the midst of a city council meeting there’s only so much you can do
- If you really want your legislation to move, you have those conversations on the front end
- Sometimes people like for things to play out because of the theatrics
Conversations with your constituents. Have the constitutents said “this is not good for us” and they’re telling you this but then the vote comes out.
- the thing you quite often don’t see, I went through this with Turner Field. There are lots of people who don’t like contentious fights, and they won’t show up at city council, but they might say 7 of us want to have a conversation with you.
- It’s about making sure that you’re listening.
- Is there a silent majority that feels a different way
Is there a silent majority on Turner Field?
- I think on the front end there was an enormous amount of distrust. Our first community meeting people were mad. For me anyway it was about being able to give my word.
- When I went into that first
- As executive director of the recreation authority
- Turner Field was not a done deal. Someone had expressed interest. The community was going stop stop stop, its moving too fast. The community thought a year was too fast, but I knew a year was not a long time
Did the braves say they wanted to develop that area. One of your peers
- that is not correct
- when I went to the recreation authority, I went with an open mind
- The braves are a mega corporation, liberty media
- Sometimes private companies don’t understand how
- You can’t write the RFP and then bid on the RFP, we’re not Cobb county.
Was there a conflict of interest with you being the head of the Fulton County Recreation Authortiy and be a city council person
- I certainly was concerned and I went to our ethics officer and got an opinion
- Confusion is befause its called CoA and F, but it’s an independent state authority
- I proactively go to the ethics office a lot
The legality is sound, but from an optics perspective. Would you appoint a council member as mayor?
- you have to look at skill sets
- Whether it was me or someone else you needed someone who could navigate public conversations and government
- It’s ironic my two staunchest critics are now candidates for mayor. Go figure
- one of my staunchest critics I called and he wouldn’t call me back. But he would go on tv, meanwhile we had a stadium to sell
- Charletta Jackson of the planning department was very helpful with writing the RFP as it related to the community LCI (living city initiatives)
- At the backend of the process the LCI
- If we waited for the LCI to get done, we’d still have the stadium
Would you appoint a city
- I was not appointed by the mayor. The Authority has an independent board. I was appointed by that board
- if a cohncilperson is qualified and the ethics department is okay with it, I think we would be doing a disservice to the city to not appoint them
Does the city do a good job of community engagement?
- the city could do a much better job
- There are communities that you get to have causes because you’re not worried about the basics, puttting food on the table, gas in the car
- Public and private partnership in community
- I look forward to creating community enhancement (engagement?) centers
- a place like this [cci], a church
- In one community it may be job training, it may be how to provide feedback to elected officials
People have put their faith in a lot of community groups. NPUs. Some neighborhoods are heard more clearly. Is it a race issue?
- I think it’s a class issue in Atlanta
- Atlanta is an anomaly
- My neighborhood may be more similar to a neighborhood in morningiade than one half a mile down the street and that has less to do with race and more to do with economics
We have economic inequality, to the public eye it seems like our priorities are a little off
- we have good fortune in the city that we have a very engaged business community. As mayor you don’t interfere with the progress of the city, but as mayor you don’t leave communities behind
- Back to basics
- In 2010, there was a need to shore our city back up
- Now that we are sound and shored up, we can shift more resources and more focus back to our communities
- I look at Atlanta like a puzzle, and if a piece is missing, the puzzle is not complete
- If the schools are bad on the westside, your going to have more traffic in Buckhead
- We have more talk about gentrification, and that’s not always racial, that’s about sofioefonomics
A lot of people say that your platform with you as mayor would be a continuation of the past 8 years. If there’s been an ends. Do you take it as a comment
- I think it’s sexist
- There’s attendance to impute a woman and her trajectory to men. I work really hard… there was not a man who did it for me. It’s irritating that this whole body of work is now imputed as if I’m a wind up toy. If I were a man, I don’t
Where does your platform differ from the current administration?
- most of our votes on city council are not close votes. I’m not th only city council member that has voted on these
- when I wrote my platform, I didn’t consult with anyone in the administration
- This conversation about Turner Field, displacement free zones, I went online and looked for best practices. I asked our planning department. We rolled out our first displacement free zone in Vine City
- I hope people will give me the credit that I’m not made out of pixie dust
- My platform as mayor is different because I’m different. I’m a mother of 4, and I bring a different perspective
Big differentiator is going back to the basics.
, got it.
Identifying who is voting and who is not. Data show that African American women are going to be really important in this race. Why are more African American women pursuing office. You’re the only African American woman running for mayor. Why?
- so many of my friends say I could never do it.
- As a woman there’s a whole different layer that goes along with it. I’ve never been more aware of being a woman than I have been in this space
- all the negative things that are attached to being a woman. They get lumped on. And a lot of women don’t want to be subjected to that. People don’t want their lives peeled away. Going back to when I was 8, you get up and you go back out there.
- Even in the midst of Turner Field, it took a lot of discipline to not read blogs.
- Told my son who’s now 15, when you see comments online, mommy may bend but she won’t break
- I hope that more women get engaged: Where women go, communities go
Charles: How would you use your platform to help black LGBT people in Atlanta. Help the low social outcomes
- I think it’s important that we continue to be an inclusive city.
- When I came onto the council, the eagle raid had just happened. And it was so wrong.
- It’s about educating people. We don’t just talk about it but we show it.
Mike Wallbit: day 1, what are your first issues?
- my biggest fear is being the dog who caught the school bus and going ‘then what?’
- What are our points of needs? Is it a quadrant view, a
- Drilling into the community bases
- A very important conversation is with our superintendent.
- An appointed cabinet level position: director of education
Jillian Madden: affordable housing?
- we’ve had this very big discussion, not just affordable but workforce housing as well. When we talk about Atlanta, can a school teacher, firefighter afford to live in this city. Where are we with our housing stock?
- Displacement free zones
- Public private partnership: private companies infusing money so there is a set of money to help people stay in their homes and renovate their homes
- How to address vacancies?
- Other cities have a program where you can buy a house for a dollar
Arts and culture, hip hop
- I love music and culture and I love art.
- we’ve seen incentives work pretty well with the film industry, how can we make it work in the music industry
- One program I really hope to do: create a 360 entertainment training program. You go through waredrobe lighting makeup, and you see kids say this is the part that I like. In high school
Rohit asked about lack of African American women running for office. This is about public schools. Most of this room is not from Fulton County and Atlanta public school students. I’m 38, right up under your age group, what happened, I don’t see a 37 year old, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Kwanza Hall, Jermaine Duprees,
Protection of people. Atlanta is not good to a lot of people. What kind of protections would a Bottoms administration put in place, sanctuary cities, immigrant and refugee communities
- we have the beauty of having any number of people across races and sexual orientations elected in our city
Do we need policy protections? Should Atlanta be a sanctuary city
- I think Atlanta should be a sanctuary city. We would need to stand up to the challenges of being that. When the federal dollars stop rolling in, we’ve got to be prepared to take it.
- We have to suffer through it, because it’s important
What are you most proud of in your kids?
- their gratitude
- I’ve never made it a secret that they’re adopted and they don’t take their lives for granted
- they have a sense of appreciation
What’s the theme song on day one?